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how crazy will it be?

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Linden, New Jersey
posts: 100
reviews: 5
how crazy will it be?

i'm back with more questions! we might as well get acquainted now..because i'm a little obsessed with ironing out details and i like to be informed.

i'm planning my vacay for the week of new years. (dec26-jan2) what can i expect from the highways and car ferry this time of year? will it be jammed up? if so..my flight comes in at noon..you think that will give me enough time to go through customs, pick up my rental car and make the trek to montezuma before sun down?

i know people have mentioned that a car is not necessary in montezuma, but the cabin i'd like to rent is up high on a hill. so, it is either car it from the airport..or shuttle it over and then rent a quad for the duration. if thats even possible... i heard quads are expensive, too.

any other tips you got for me? i'm getting super excited for this trip even though it is months and months away..

Linden, New Jersey
posts: 100
reviews: 5
21. Re: how crazy will it be?

sound advice gary, thank you! regarding the exit tax..i was hoping to take care of that the moment i arrive. i also heard you can pay at any national bank and they give you a voucher?

i think i've left myself more than enough time to get to the places i want to go, here's the basic itinerary:

day 1: arrive SJO around 8:00pm. catch the (free) shuttle to nearby hotel to spend the night.

day 2: take shuttle back on over to the airport in the morning (why? well...i'm interested in stocking up on stuff at duty-free, and also i can meet my rental car agency here gratis. i believe they charge a small fee for hotel delivery) if this is a completely stupid idea, please let me know! grab the car and set off for the ferry/motezuma. probably arrive montezuma late afternoon.

day 3: chill

day 4: chill

day 5: chill

day 6: chill

day 7: new years eve!

day 8: wake up as early as humanly possible to make the trek back to Alajuela. Go through the rental car return process. grab transportation (taxi, i hope) to our final night at margarita's b&b.

day 9: airport day. flight isn't until almost 3:00pm, so we have some time still.

Edited: 12:44 pm, June 01, 2012
Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 481
reviews: 9
22. Re: how crazy will it be?

Duty free: I'm not sure how you would get back into the duty free without having to go through departure security again (and it's been a disaster my last few trips), so if it's still open when you arrive, do it then, there is a duty free by luggage pick up.

Exit tax: Of the 15 times I've been to Costa Rica it's only had a line 4(?) times, but 3 of those were the last 3 and it was very long. I did the bank thing once, it saved time at the airport, but it didn't really save me any time, I was just at the bank instead of the airport.

On the rental fee: That might be true, but make sure you aren't paying extra since you're at the airport too (airport tax). I have no idea if Costa Rica does it this way but sometimes it's cheaper one way and not another.

There are two information desks by luggage pickup: They've both got lots of info and maps, but the one furthest from the security luggage check, usually has The Tico Times (Costa RIca weekly English paper).

Hotels: I can't remember if you were staying cheap or fancy. I have recommendations for both SJO and Montezuma. I (usually) do cheap, clean, friendly, hot water, WiFi and A/C if you're looking for recommendations. (I see you have a place for the last day).

day 3: Go to the waterfalls, because when (not if) you love, you'll want to go multiple times. Bring shoes that stay on and can get wet. Consider the hike up to the upper falls (the climb is more daunting looking than it looks, ask people, and you come back a different way).

day 9: If you're in Alajuela, hop on the DIrecto bus to San Jose and wander around the downtown area for a few hours.

If security sees that you have water (or soda) at the SECOND security screening, they will take it from you before you board, even if it's clearly airport water. And if you're sitting at the airport thinking "silly Gary, there is no second screening", they will come magically set up seconds before your flight takes off; I promise. (They're setting up some containment areas so that you can get screened a second time at a time before you board, but I've only seen it the last time I flew I had no time to sit down, but it looks like once you go through it, if you want food or bathrooms you have to go through it again!)

Gary

Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 481
reviews: 9
23. Re: how crazy will it be?

And here's a few links of mine specifically about Montezuma.

I love this area so much, I even created a photo site, just for that area of Costa Rica http://MontezumaPacific.com/

I blogged about lots of my trips at my blog http://GarySaid.com/tags/montezuma/ you can search there for "Costa Rica" too. The stories are probably more detailed in the past, since I've been there SO many times, I tend to not write as much now...

A few dozen of my videos at YouTube of Montezuma www.youtube.com/user/garylapointe/videos…

And some cool 720(?) degree 3D-ish PhotoSynths at photosynth.net/userprofilepage.aspx…

but I don't know how to restrict to just Montezuma (but I'd guess half are from Costa Rica) so you might have to flip pages because I've got some AWESOME ones of the waterfalls (including from the edge of the top of the 90 foot one looking down and up the 40 foot upper falls!).

Once I'm in Montezuma, usually the only thing I want a car for is to go over to watch the sunset on the other side (the easiest way is via Cabo Blanco, but I've read there is a shortcut through Delicias that I haven't done yet, so ask if adventurous). Otherwise, I don't really use it. So if you do get an ATV rental for a day, be sure to catch sunset in St. Teresa.

Let's see: Cabo Blanco (this is one of the most preserved parks in the country) is closed Monday and Tuesday, there is a bus from town at 8am or 8:20-ish and it drops you off at the bottom of the driveway, not at the entrance (maybe a kilometer away?), if you don't have a car (if you have a car, be there at 7:59 so that you can get in before the noisy tourists show up). It's beautiful there but VERY hilly. No climbing with your hands but it's VERY steep up and down (they've put in cement blocks). You only have two choices there. a 75-90 minutes loop or and 2 hour walk to the beach (and 2 hours back). FYI, Even the short loop at Cabo Blanco is much harder than climbing to the upper falls in Montezuma.

Don't assume anywhere has air conditioning, TV, WiFi or hot water (usually, just the shower). This goes for anywhere in Costa Rica that isn't an international chain.

Santa Teresa, Costa...
Destination Expert
for Mal Pais, Santa Teresa
posts: 1,467
reviews: 10
24. Re: how crazy will it be?

Which rental company are you using? It is likely easier if you just get yourself to the agency office rather than going to the airport (it may be close to where you are staying and likely closer than going back to the airport). You will not be able to get back into the airport to get Duty Free until you are ready to leave the country. If you are looking at picking up anything in Duty Free, do it as you are arriving. Often, you are not really saving much, just go to a store and buy alcohol (if that is what you are going back for) it will also take you less time.

As far as your departure tax, you can only pay it at the Banco Costa Rica. The bank lines are often very long and time consuming, it is much quicker to wait and pay the tax at the airport just before you check-in. It only takes a few minutes in comparison to the bank and you will have plenty of time the day you fly out to pay the fee.

Edited: 2:48 pm, June 01, 2012
Linden, New Jersey
posts: 100
reviews: 5
25. Re: how crazy will it be?

ohhhh, see i had this idea in my head that duty-free had outrageous prices, thats why i wanted to get to it so bad. i'm landing around 8:00, and on christmas day, so i figured they'd be closed.

guess i'll just pay the exit tax when i leave, oh well.

Linden, New Jersey
posts: 100
reviews: 5
26. Re: how crazy will it be?

also, to answer gary, i'm all set up with accomodations. i'll be at a vacation rental up on a hill. no a/c but hoping for some nice breezes.

i definitely want to make it to the waterfalls. i was thinking of doing the montezuma canopy tour that makes a stop there. i'm interested in seeking out the cocolito (el churro) waterfalls, too.

Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 481
reviews: 9
27. Re: how crazy will it be?

When you say canopy tour, do you mean the zip lines (I'm not sure what else they have). Those just take you to the top of the upper upper falls (15 ft and 40 ft) which are wonderful, but different. And it's just a rest stop it's not a hang out and explore a lot kind of thing.

Make sure you go to the main falls, that's the 90 foot ones (the main ones).

Gary

Looking at the 90 foot falls

photosynth.net/view.aspx…

You can see the 40 foot falls, but be sure to look DOWN, as I'm at the top edge of the 90 foot falls!

photosynth.net/view.aspx…

Standing at the top of El Chorro

photosynth.net/view.aspx…

Linden, New Jersey
posts: 100
reviews: 5
28. Re: how crazy will it be?

yeah, i meant zipline. love the photosynths!

Dearborn, Michigan
posts: 481
reviews: 9
29. Re: how crazy will it be?

Thanks!

At the zip lines they take you to the upper upper falls, which would be the 15 foot falls and the pool (with rope swing) that creates the 40 foot falls. All above that highest photosynth I linked above.

Sometimes the zip line tours spend some time up there, some times it seems like a quick in and out.

But now that I think about it, since you are "up the hill" there might be some back ways to the upper falls, so be sure to ask.

The lower falls are the 90 foot huge ones, so you're probably want to walk up to those from ground level.

I love the lower falls, if I'm not in Cabo Blanco or El Chorro or exploring somewhere else, I go to the lower falls every day. And the upper falls 2 out of 3 (of those days), then I come back to town and rest by the beach with a slice of Pizza and a Coke from the place next to Chico's, I think it's called Bruno's now and they generally put out big slices at 2 or 3 in the afternoon for $2 (maybe $2.50).

Gary

30. Re: how crazy will it be?

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